Age at interview: 36
Background: Fred is married with two children, a 4-year-old daughter and a two-month-old son. He lives in a regional town in Australia. Fred was born in the UK and comes from an Anglo background.
Fred experienced occasional periods of feeling 'down' before having children, but felt equipped to manage these. Around the birth of his second child, Fred struggled to cope and needed support. Counselling and talking about his emotions with his partner and friends assisted him.
Read excerpts from Fred's interview
> Experiences of pregnancy - Fred was apprehensive about the arrival of his second child but was able to work through this with the support of his partner and friends
> Experiences of health services during pregnancy, IVF and surrogacy - Fred described how an antenatal class aimed at men was much better preparation for birth and early parenthood than the hospital classes he attended
> Social support during labour, birth and the early postnatal period - Fred described the emotional impact of missing his second child's birth
> Expectations of parenthood - Fred had less experience with children than his wife had before they became parents
> Caring for a baby - feeding and sleeping - Fred talked about the positive impacts of being able to bottle feed his baby breastmilk his wife had expressed
> Understanding antenatal and postnatal depression - Fred who experienced depression before and after his second child described himself as very 'goal-oriented' person. He reflected on how this had made adjusting to parenthood more difficult
> Social support during experiences of antenatal and postnatal depression - Fred described the impact of the depression he experienced after his second child's birth on the dynamics within his household - his partner, their pre-school aged daughter, and their baby son
> Antenatal and postnatal depression - men's experiences - Fred struggled with the idea of having a second child and was critical of the 'assumption' that fathers don't need help
> Antenatal and postnatal depression - men's experiences - Fred recognised he needed to talk with his wife and other friends who were 'dads' when experiencing distress during his wife's second pregnancy
> Becoming a parent - impact on identity and close relationships - Fred reflected on the parts of his character he felt parenthood had brought into the open - both good and bad
> Approaches to parenting - Fred and his wife researched different parenting practices before deciding on the approach they would take. As a result, they adopted some 'not very standard' practices which they 'kept quiet' about
More about Fred
Fred grew up in the UK and had a 'great' childhood. He met his wife at university. They were together for ten years before conceiving their daughter, having decided to wait until it 'felt right' before starting a family. Fred said he and his wife took a 'planned' approach to conception, including both going on a detox diet for a year beforehand.
During the pregnancy, Fred attended an antenatal class for men, which he said was the 'best thing' he had done as he found conventional antenatal classes very 'woman-centric'. Their daughter was born in hospital with the assistance of a doula. Fred was very 'hands-on' during the birth and in caring for his baby.
Fred said first-time parenthood was 'rewarding' but involved 'lots of broken sleep and lots of arguments'. A lack of family support didn't help. He and his wife had agreed that after six months Fred would become the primary carer while his wife went back to work, as she had spent most of their relationship studying. However Fred's wife changed her mind and decided she did not want to swap roles. This was disappointing for Fred as he had 'always wanted to do the stay-at-home dad thing' and found his job stressful.
When Fred's wife told him that she wanted another baby, Fred was 'not convinced' and it was some time before he agreed. Once they conceived Fred said he was 'comfortable' about it, but as the birth drew closer, Fred described starting to feel like he was approaching a 'cliff edge', and realised that he needed help.
Fred told his wife how he was feeling and also spoke with his male friends, which was helpful. As the due date drew closer, he began to feel more excited than fearful. Their son arrived two weeks early. He was delivered by a doula at home while Fred was asleep, which Fred said made him feel 'pretty rubbish' although he was able to work through these feelings.
After the birth, his wife experienced a few days of 'baby blues' which Fred supported her through. He was under a lot of work pressure and soon after this he said he 'just broke down'. His employer was supportive and Fred received counselling through work in addition to talking with his wife and friends. Realising that something needed to 'shift' in relation to stress, both he and his wife are now looking for part-time work to relieve some of the income-earning pressure he has felt since becoming a father.
Fred sometimes questions his decision to have children as he said he and his wife had always been very driven with 'big dreams' and becoming parents has meant 'missing more and more goals'. However, he said his children's 'unconditional love' made up for this. His advice to other new fathers is to 'have open communication with others where you can really talk about the emotions that you're feeling.'